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Should I wear a mask?
Should I get a second COVID-19 booster vaccine?
Suddenly, questions and answers about staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic seem as mercurial as Seattle’s spring weather, where it may rain, hail, or shine depending on the hour and where you are.
Cases of COVID-19 are beginning to fall from their crest a few weeks ago, according to State Department of Health (DOH) leaders, but some areas of Eastern Washington may lag behind the trend.
Umair Shah, M.D., M.P.H., secretary of health for the DOH, said Wednesday, Feb. 2, that the crisis in hospitals also appears to be leveling off, but he warned that an estimated 50–75 COVID-19 deaths happen each day in the state.
“There is hopeful news in the trajectory of cases,” Shah said. He asked the public to avoid going to emergency rooms for routine health care, in order to leave them with space for patients with more urgent needs. He also repeated that the tools of vaccination, boosters, and masking are the best ways to continue the positive trend.
The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) warned the public on Jan. 6 that rising cases of COVID-19, as well as staff shortages due to illness, are challenging the ability to provide care.
The group held a media event via livestream on Jan. 6. Later the same day, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) held a separate press event and explained how millions of home-testing kits for COVID-19 will be distributed beginning late next week.
As King County prepares to reopen after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions along with the rest of the state, Washingtonians still need to take precautions.
Washington State will officially reopen on Wednesday, June 30. This means that while vaccinated people will have the option to go maskless indoors — a step King County took on Tuesday, June 29, one day ahead of schedule — this does not mean that businesses cannot require people to wear masks inside, according to a June 29 press release from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. The press release also suggests that large indoor and outdoor events require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Physical distancing restrictions will also be lifted and with the exception of large indoor events, there will be no more capacity restrictions.
However, this reopening also means that unvaccinated people and children under the age of 12 who are unable to get the vaccine will become more susceptible to contracting and spreading the virus, if they or their guardians do not take proper precautions. If you or a loved one is eligible to get the vaccine, walk-up appointments are available daily at many locations around King County, including pharmacies, clinics, and mass vaccination sites.
Roughly 60% of Washingtonians aged 16 and above have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s progress — but still short of the 70% goal, health officials said at a press conference on May 26.
Vaccines are the “road to the future,” said Umair Shah, Washington State’s secretary of health.
There was nothing but good news at the Public Health – Seattle & King County COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, May 12.
Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin announced in the press conference that the data suggests that not only has the County started to “turn the corner” on its most recent surge of COVID-19 cases, but that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has officially approved the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to young people aged 12-15.
Though COVID-19 disease activity remains high, and there are suggestions the pandemic curve might be starting to flatten, King County remains in Phase 3 of the Gov. Inslee’s reopening plan. And in South and Southeast King County there are concerns that certain communities of color have received the least vaccine coverage.
King County and more than a dozen other counties will stay in Phase 3 of the State’s reopening plan, despite the fact that they have exceeded the metrics required to stay in Phase 3, Gov. Jay Inslee announced in a press conference on Tuesday, May 4.
Inslee said that the State will be “pausing” the regular two-week county metric evaluations for two weeks, which effectively means that no counties will be evaluated for another two weeks. It was widely expected that Inslee would move King County back into Phase 2 of the State’s reopening plan, but because the county’s case rates and hospitalization rates have flattened, for the most part, King County will not be moving back.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), explained in the press conference that the case rate for the County has stayed fairly level for the last two weeks. He also said that King County hospitals have seen a plateau in emergency visits for COVID-like illness.
The case rate metric to stay in Phase 3 is at or less than 200 cases per 100,000 people. According to data from the Roadmap to Recovery dashboard, King County sits at almost 243 cases per 100,000 people. This data is current as of May 2, 2021.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
The Latest on COVID-19 Vaccines
How to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine — Now that everyone 16 years or older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine here in Washington state, how do you even find one? In case you missed it last week, Emerald reporter Ben Adlin put together a comprehensive guide on locating a COVID-19 vaccine and everything else you’d probably like to know before getting one.
We’ve highlighted some quick answers from the guide for the “Where Do I Go To Get a Vaccine?” question here:
Start with your primary care physician (PCP) or health clinic: See if they’re scheduling appointments with their own sign-up system. If you don’t have a PCP (or even if you do and your PCP isn’t offering vaccine appointments), check out the next options on this list.
City of Seattle Vaccination Locations: Four locations are located in Rainier Beach, West Seattle, North Seattle, and Lumen Field in SODO. Get on the waitlist for an appointment through a city website (available in seven languages) or by calling the city’s customer service hotline at (206) 684-2489 (interpreters are available to provide language assistance).
King County Vaccination Sites (outside Seattle): Locations are open in Auburn, Kent, and Redmond. For Auburn or Kent locations, pre-register through a county website (currently only in English), and for the Redmond location, pre-register through their own separate website. King County also has a COVID-19 call center you can call to get on the waitlist at (206) 477-3977 (language interpreters are available).
Pharmacy and Drugstore Chains: Pharmacy and drugstore chains like Safeway, Walgreens, Costco, QFC, CVS, and more offer their own vaccine appointments with their own registration systems via online or the phone. Note that you may be required to set up an account with these companies in order to get on their waitlist.
Vaccine Locator Tools:Vaccinate WA’s Locator (state-run) and CovidWA.com (volunteer-led) allow you to search for available vaccination appointments at sites near your zip code. Both groups are sharing information, but the systems remain separate.
Find a COVID Shot WA: A grassroots-led Facebook group that helps highest risk communities, including BIPOC, find vaccination appointments through crowdsourced information about vaccine availability.
It’s okay to put your name on a few different appointment waitlists, but if you do finalize an appointment, be sure to take your name off the other lists!
The above was just a snapshot of some of the valuable information in Ben Adlin’s guide. For more information, check out the full article.
Public Health – Seattle & King County Offers In-Home Vaccinations —King County Public Health officials announced on Monday, April 19, that people who have difficulty leaving their homes will qualify for in-home COVID-19 vaccinations from a team of mobile caregivers. People over the age of 16 who qualify include those who cannot easily leave their home because of an injury, developmental disability, or medical condition. Appointments are prioritized for those in most serious need of the vaccine and those who have the most challenges leaving their home.
To make an appointment, call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at (206) 477-3977 between 8 a.m. and 7 a.m. any day of the week. People will be asked a number of questions to determine eligibility, and then an appointment can be scheduled. Translation services during the call are available in a number of languages and a limited number of in-person translation services at the time of vaccination is also an option.
Note that because of high demand, you may need to wait several weeks for an appointment. According to Public Health – Seattle & King County, during your in-home appointment, you’ll need to: (Begin quote.)
Make sure that everyone in your home wears a mask unless they are unable to for health reasons.
When possible, practice social distancing. If you are not receiving the vaccine, stay six feet apart from members of the vaccination team.
Keep pets out of the area where the vaccination takes place.